Are you snapping more photos with your phone or digital camera and transferring more documents to a computer these days? What will you do when you run out of storage space?
Here’s one solution: cloud storage. “The cloud” sounds like a mysterious force, but it’s just shorthand for “cloud computing,” a nerdy term for on-demand information storage and management. Anytime you use the internet, you’re interacting with the cloud. Storing data on the cloud keeps it secure and portable, and you can get tons of free storage for your data.
Cloud storage solves another problem: You can access your online documents, photos and music from any device at any time.
You probably already have some cloud storage available, even if you don’t realize it. Below, you will find listed:
- Cloud storage you may already have access to
- Free sources with the most space
- Free sources with the least space
Sample prices for purchasing additional storage are shown, too.
Cloud storage you may already have
If you own an Apple device, you’ve got 5 GB of free iCloud space. Some may already be consumed by your device backups, mail, messages and photos, though.
Expand your iCloud storage starting at about $1 a month for 50 GB.
Best for: Apple die-hards
2. Microsoft OneDrive
You don’t have to be a PC devotee to use Microsoft OneDrive, although it helps. Just as Apple bakes iCloud into its devices, Windows integrates OneDrive into its operations.
Microsoft OneDrive Basic gives users 5 GB of storage space free. To get more:
- Buy Microsoft Office 365, which comes with 1 TB (a terabyte is roughly 1,000 gigabytes) of additional storage.
- Alternatively, pay $2 per month for 50 GB more.
Best for: Microsoft Office 365 users
3. Amazon Drive
Amazon Prime members get the unlimited photo storage (and 5 GB of video storage) of Amazon Drive included in their membership.
Not a Prime member? Not a problem. You can purchase 100 GB of digital storage for $12 per year.
Best for: Prime subscribers with lots of photos
4. Google Drive
Google’s cloud-based storage product, called Google Drive, offers the most — 15 GB — of free, no-strings-attached storage of any service. If you have a Google account, you already have this space.
One hitch: Your use of any and all Google products — Google Drive, Gmail and Google Photos — counts toward this 15 GB of storage.
If you need more space, upgrading to 100 GB costs about $2 per month.
- People who resist paying for storage
- Those with non-Google email accounts, so email doesn’t hog their free Google Drive storage
Sources offering the most free storage
Box has a simple name and a simple concept: 10 GB of free storage for anyone, regardless of device or membership. The maximum file size per upload is 250 MB. If you need more, $10 per month buys you 100 GB.
Best for: People who mistrust bigger tech brands or want additional free space
PCloud offers you 10 GB of free space.
If you want more storage, there’s the somewhat unusual choice between:
- Monthly plan: about $4 per month for 500 GB
- Lifetime plan: $175; After 3½ years, the lifetime plan is less costly than the monthly plan.
Best for: People who expect to outgrow free storage and need it for the long haul
MediaFire offers 10 GB of cloud storage free. Use it to “back up all your important files — even your not-so-important ones, too,” MediaFire says.
Additional storage starts at $5 month for 1 TB.
Best for: Those who want to back up personal documents and a music collection
Sources offering less free storage
Designed specifically to be used for backups, iDrive offers 5 GB of free cloud space. After that, the price jumps to $70 per year for 2 TB. A sign-up discount currently drops the price to about $52 for the first year.
Best for: Light computer users who want to safely back up the entire contents of their computer
You can sign up for the free Dropbox Basic account and enjoy 2 GB of cloud storage, gratis.
The lowest tier of paid plans starts at $10 per month and offers 2 TB of storage space.
Best for: People who want to sync and share files in the cloud but don’t need tons of storage
The CamScanner app for Android and Apple devices is intended for use in scanning and storing documents. It employs optical character recognition to read text. You can pass your scanned document along to other cloud storage locations. Nonetheless, the free version comes with 200 MB of cloud storage. The paid version, at about $5 per month, bumps you up to 10 GB.
Best for: People with lots of paperwork that they want to convert to a digital format
What’s your favorite place to store files in the cloud? Let us know by commenting below or over on our Facebook page.